Red Eye Banquet – a London band remembered

This is supposedly to be a blog spending lots of its time telling you about NEW London acts – but instead, just this once, I’m going to tell you about an OLD band that I’m pretty sure are now long gone.  Nostalgia on an autumnal, drizzly Sunday – it seems appropriate, really.

The band is Red Eye Banquet.  In 2006 they were hotly-tipped – see this BBC gush – and boasting a good presence on the London live scene, and a record release via Blissfields Records.  But in 2007 they disappeared off the radar; no news, no shows, nada.  And that it seems is that – the official website is dormant, Blissfields Records is gone, the MySpace page was last logged into in mid 2008 (although the blog had someone log in earlier this summer) and any internet hit is ancient.

reb2

It’s sad – REB were never a great band in my opinion, but rather a good band blessed with some great songs.  Their style was richly, admirably and perhaps too-ambitiously varied: covering love ballands, rap and thrash to name but a few genres.  The lyrics were simple tales with bigger meanings, or simply endearing and starkly honest love letters.  Singer Michael Shearer had a good voice, and the rest of the band could definitely play.  So what went wrong?

I saw the quartet live twice and the one problem I had was that their sets didn’t really reflect their MySpace sound.   Live, REB played a lot faster and noisier than on record, the gigs much more rock-dominated than I had anticipated, especially more melancholic songs like Wanda.  Perhaps it was nerves and/or an intent to captivate the crowd – it must always be easier to make more noise than less – but whatever the reason, I wonder if it was this intense performance style that eventually hindered REB. If you saw them live and liked the noisiness, on record the band might be disappointingly sedate; do it the other way round, like me, and you wonder if you’ve overestimated that so-appealing mellowness.  Neither scenario is a positive one for the band.  Be it slow, weird, upside down or behind an ugly vocal catheter, I always think performers should perform similar to their recorded sound.  Too many bands fall into the trap of playing faster, rockier sets live than their music necessitates.

REB

I was particularly upset by this in REB’s instance because they didn’t even play my favourite song of theirs, Myfanwy.  It remains to this day a scintillating tune and mainstay on my iPod: simultaneously a tale of young lovers in a Welsh coastal village, of a confused chappie, and (perhaps relevant to my thoughts earlier) of the pressure on REB to do this and that – in this case fake tans and hip hop.  I’m ever compelled to scream along to it, face clenched in effort, and my neighbours terrified.  And each time I hear it I’m a little sadder about REB’s apparent demise.  Those boys had talent.

If anyone has news of them, or thinks I have them completely wrong, do please write in and put me right.

Red Eye Banquet on MySpace

MP3: Red Eye Banquet – Myfanwy (zSHARE)
MP3: Red Eye Banquet – Wanda (zSHARE)

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~ by ripamel on 11/10/2009.

2 Responses to “Red Eye Banquet – a London band remembered”

  1. I too frequently have a day remembering how great they were and many a time over the last year I have sat with them and friends screaming along to the good old REB songs, the council even came over one morning at 5am to tell us to shut up!

    The band went on to form Barefoot Confessor who have now recently split – http://www.myspace.com/barefootconfessor check their last blog post for details of what Michael is doing.

    Long live REB.

  2. The best thing about REB was Eddie Taylor – a real stand-out for me. They should re-form with him back on board, although I hear he is doing big things in Australia these days.

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